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This past weekend, myself and three friends attended Jason Pridmore's Star Motorcycle School at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama.  When we arrived on Saturday morning, the sun was blazing and we knew it would be a good day.  As we passed through the front gate, our mouths droppped at the beauty of the track.  Someone spent a lot of money on the facilities.  The track has significant elevations changes, trackside sculptures, and air conditioned facilities.  

At orientation, Jason introduced himself and his staff.  Greg White, from Speed channel, was also there . . . riding.  While introducing Greg, Jason inadvertently called the Speed channel Speed Vision.  Greg corrected him, and my buddy Ron said, 'No . . . its the NASCAR Channel.'  Everyone laughed and clapped.  It was classic.

Star runs its days with 20 minutes spent in the classroom and then 20 minutes on the track . . . plenty of track time.  All riders were divided into two groups (advanced and street).  I rode in the street group.  Our first session was spent following the instructors around the track so that we could get a feel for Barber.  It is a technical track, but several of the corners can be straightened out to save significant time.  Later classroom sessions were spent discussing everything from body positioning, looking through corners, and throttle management.  Let me also say that Jason and his staff are very 'down to earth.'  As other reviews have mentioned, he truly makes you feel at ease.  That's not always easy when your talking with someone as skilled as Jason.

During the afternoon session, we were treated with the opportunity to ride two-up with Jason.  Normally, Jason rides two-up on a katana.  However, he told us that it was not available, and that we would be riding with him on a GSXR1000 . . . YES . . . a GSXR1000.  Everyones eyes got big.  Neddless to say that added to my anxiety, but I had to find out what that would be like.  When my turn came, I told Jason that I hated being a passenger on motorcycles and that I was rather anxious.  He calmly said he understood . . . yeah right.  He said to hold on to his waist (I made an exception to my rule prohibiting me from holding any man around the waist) and to place my hands on the tank under braking.

We took off!  The first turn was a big right hander.  As he leaned it to the right (wait . . . he threw the bike to the right), I swore we were going to crash.  The forces were so great that I could not look up to see the top of the hill into turn four.  Turn five was a sharp left turn.  Again, we came in hot . . . I thought it was too hot.  He is so smooth in his shifting and braking that you can bearly feel it.  My hands slammed again the tank and my butt came of the seat as he threw the bike over to the left.  As we approached the front straight, I think Jason interpreted my grunts as a sign to go faster.  As we got to the end of the front straight, I felt like screaming like a little girl  because there was no way we were going to avoid the tires and gravel pit, but, we did.    

As we pulled into the pits after two of the most amazing laps I'll ever experience, my only words were, 'Holy ####!'    Ron was there to get that on video.  Ladies and Gentleman, Jason and other professional riders are riding on another planet.  It was like sitting on the shoulders of Micheal Jordan while he plays basketball.  That experience did more to help my riding than the classroom sessions because it let me know how far I could go before reaching the limits of my bike.  The GSXR1000 was stock.

The second day was much the same.  Classroom session followed by track time.  Jason and his staff also took us out onto the track and made several passes through a couple of turns to show us how they were braking and shifting into turns.  We learned that when Jason slids his rear tire, he is NOT using the rear brake.  It is done completely with the clutch.  It was amazing to watch.  Needless to say, he said that he goes through quite a few clutches.  

During the afternoon, a thunderstorm hit.  It was OK though because Jason and his teammate, Josh Hayes, sat down and answered our questions about almost anything.  They spoke honestly.  However, I won't share their comments because we did promise that our questions were off the record.  However, one question was fair game.  It concerned the rumors of MotoGP coming to Barber.  After having seen Barber and its wonderful facilities, I don't think MotoGp will come.  Put simply, the track is too small for 200hp bikes and there are safety concerns.  Additionally, the track cannot accomodate the crowds that would surely come i.e. restrooms, parking, garage space, paddocks, hotels, restaurants etc.  Don't get me wrong, the track is a great experience, but not yet worthy of MotoGp.  These were things that various people, more experienced than myself, felt.

In any case, I had a great time and felt that I had improved myself as a rider.  My only gripe was that I didn't feel that I gotten enough one-on-one instruction, but I place that one on me because I should have sought it out.  The times that I did ask an instructor to follow me, they were more than willing.  I would recommend this school to any rider aspiring to improve, and, you should all go to Barber to ride . . . it is worth the expense.      
 

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Great write-up.

Going to Barber for a NESBA track day 9/6... can't wait.
 

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Thanks for the write up! Sounds like an awesome place! HondaGal and I are thinking about doing a STAR school there next year.
 

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Very nice write up Dude. I want to get to that track sometime next year.
 

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Good story, thanks. Glad to hear Jason hasn't changed his formula since I took the Star School at Putnam 4 years ago. I'm hoping I can do his school at Barber next season with friends from the UK.

I agree with your assessment of Barber holding the MotoGP. Although I would be surprised if any more people showed up than at a well attended Superbike National at Mid-Ohio. The compactness of the facility would make it like a rock concert.
 
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